The assignment from my coach seemed easy enough. It's taper time, go out Saturday and do a 3hr ride at 'just riding around pace'. After weekend upon weekend of rides from 4-6.5 hrs, sometimes on two consecutive days, all at a decent pace or with a specific goal, this was going to be fun. Just riding around for 3 hrs. I remembered the same type of ride last year before IMWI and I remember how much I enjoyed being able to look at the scenery, wildlife, creeks, streams etc... on that ride and to enjoy everything knowing that I had put months of hard work in and was able to do what a lot of 'normal' people can't do or wouldn't call easy, and that was to go out and do 50-60 miles on a bike without putting out a lot of effort. Also, I guess most normal people would not consider a 3hr ride short either, but then again I'm learning there's not a lot of 'normal' people that do Ironman.
For this ride I decided to ride with the local roadies. They leave every Saturday at 8 am for a longish ride at a relatively moderate to easy pace. The group can vary between 4 to 8 people. My plan was to sit in, not push any climbs and just hang out and enjoy the ride and day. About 8 of us showed up, some wanted to go long (4 to 4.5 hrs is their idea of long, I silently chuckled) and a couple were limited to 3 hrs which was perfect. We started out at an easy pace, I sat at the back and talked with two other triathletes for the first 20 minutes. We came to the first hill, a good 2-3 mile climb that has a pretty steep section for the first 100 or so yards so I put it in the easiest gear and started spinning. Unintentionally I ended up leading the group up the whole climb as I sat up and spun comfortably. Nobody was really pushing it, however the other two riders on my wheel seemed to be breathing a lot harder than me and we dropped the rest of the group. We reached the top of the climb and the two roadies sprinted the last few yards for bragging rights then we waited for the rest of the group while they struggled for breath and I chatted to them about what a nice day it was. The rest of the group caught up and we continued on, again I was enjoying the day until I felt my front tire going down.
This was the 4th or 5th flat this year. Different wheels, different tires, some in training, 2 in races. I went all of 2007 with no flats. Pulled over and the group stopped with me. Tire off, tube out, checked tire for glass or punctures, didn't find anything, new tube in, tire on and
3-4 minutes later I'm ready to inflate. Hook up CO2, and hissssss large 1/4 tear in the tire with glass in it that I somehow missed. OK, now I've used my one and only spare tube but I get one given to me, borrow some CO2, put a dollar inside the tire to cover the rip after removing the glass and go to re-inflate and hisssss now air is coming out from another missed cut on the opposite side of the wheel. Repeat above steps again, by now it's been 15 minutes and the group is getting antsy, tell eveyone if this doesn't work to go on and I'll call for a ride. Ready to inflate for the third time and hisssss another leak, this time it's a faulty tube an it's leaking from the base of the valve stem. Defeated, I tell the group to carry on. They wait until I get confirmation that my wife is on her way and then head down the road on a beautiful Saturday morning while I am left to wait for a ride in the middle of nowhere in a church parking lot.
I then proceed to e-mail my coach telling him that despite his guidance and training me for the last 9 months I am not worthy and can't even finish a 3 hr ride. Following is evidence of the events described above.